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The purpose of this chapter is to highlight the importance of food supply chains in understanding water security. Food supply chains are important because about 90 % of the water needed by an individual or a national economy is embedded in their food consumption. This water will be called food-water in this analysis. Food requires water to produce it. This water can be either green water—that is the water that is held in the soil profile after rainfall. Crops and vegetation can use this water for consumptive transpiration. Food-water can also be blue water, usually called freshwater. Such water can be diverted from rivers or pumped from groundwater. Globally, green water accounts for about 80 % of the water used for crop and livestock production. Over 20 % is blue water which is the water used consumptively in full and supplementary irrigation. The food supply chain is also important because farmers and other agents in this supply chain allocate and manage the vast volumes of water used consumptively. Farmers are helped by ag-industries which breed seeds and provide fertilizers, equipment and pesticides. All of these inputs plus science and many government subsidies have enabled farmers to increase their water productivity. Farmers manage about 90 % of the food-water resources in the food supply chain. The other 10 % of food-water is handled by corporations and other private sector entities that trade, transport, process and market food for consumers. The volumes of food-water in this non-farm part of the supply chain are therefore relatively small. (Note the analysis in this chapter does not address the water resources devoted to the production of fibre and energy. The author recognises the role of water in these economic activities but there is no space to address the nuances that these consumptive and non-consumptive demands place on the consumptive use of water.)
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- Water and Food Security: Food-water and Food Supply Value Chains
J. A. (Tony) Allan